Dear Chester, I only realised a few days ago that it’s nearly been a year …
Long have I been fascinated by not only the longevity of the extreme brand of metal provided by The Black Dahlia Murder, but also the remarkable consistency of the band to maintain a turnover of pure aggression and fury in their sound. For near 20 years the American juggernauts have been thrashing, grinding, blasting and snarling away in the extreme metal underground, touring relentlessly around the world and constantly meeting the bar for death metal on a worldwide scale.
While their newest outing Nightbringers doesn’t so much as present anything new to the fold, the nine tracks serve as a reminder for what standard kids starting out in the scene can aspire to in their own projects.
Where Nightbringers does expand on The Black Dahlia Murder’s sound is in tightness of product. Entry cuts Widowmaker and Matriarch have all the fire in the belly as the next deathcore band on the block, but there is more awareness on structure than on previous releases—and that’s a relief when approaching this record.
With the unrelenting, sometimes unclear direction of the music often being what prevents people committing to the genre, the cuts on this record mix both furious riffage and solos with crystal clean production and a sense of direction. The opening blasts of Jars or Scandinavian flavours of the suspiciously black metal titled Kings Of The Nightworld set the dynamic standard for most of the journey, but the mixture of gang calls, breakdowns and Kerry King-esque squeals are clear markers for the musical motifs in the songs, helping to digest the intensity of the content.
What’s apparent on Nightbringers is that The Black Dahlia Murder know where they fit in the global metal scene. Guitarists Brian Eschbach & Brandon Ellis* choose not to stray to far from the melodic death metal riffs that have characterised the band throughout their career, adding perhaps a pinch more melody than on previous outings, whilst frontman Trevor Strnad has lost none of his admirable vocal abilities. His work on Catacomb Hecatomb is of note, with Strnad effortlessly moving from menacing growls to spitfire shrieks, a true masterclass of harsh vocal work.
Overall, there’s nothing that makes Nightbringers a ground-breaking metal release but, like their contemporaries in Amon Amarth & Children Of Bodom, The Black Dahlia Murder know what their fans want, and in a world that is ever changing, some familiarity goes a long way to keeping people invested. What prevents Nightbringers from feeling repetitive and stale is the clear sound of a band still passionate about their craft.
The sensitivity towards good song writing, as well as the envious technical abilities on display, are the sounds of a band turning the dial up to 11 and comfortably producing an album that sounds like the bands and sounds that they and their fans have always loved.
STANDOUT TRACKS: Kings Of The Nightworld, Catacomb Hecatomb
STICK THIS NEXT TO: Children Of Bodom, The Acacia Strain, Psycroptic
EDIT: The original article stated former guitarist Ryan Knight was still in the band. This has been corrected.